Great Animated Series for Adults on HBO Max
Genndy Tartakovsky is the brilliant mind behind iconic animated series such as Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpuff Girls. But, in 2019, he released something for a much older audience. His series Primal is the tale of a caveman and his dinosaur sidekick as they navigate their prehistoric treacherous world. There is no dialogue, only grunts and screeches, with all of the emotional weight lying on the animation. The result is a stunning and deeply sad show that is able to use facial expressions and a series of tragedies to make you really care for these two characters. Tartakovsky has made something special with Primal that will catch you with its beauty and keep you with its rich stories.
Close Enough (2020)
J. G. Quintel, the mind behind Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, is back with something new: Close Enough, an animated series about the perils of adulthood with a splash of sci-fi crises to keep it fresh. Josh and Emily are a happily married couple with a five-year-old daughter and two divorced roommates. On top of their chaotic home, both of them are turning thirty, an event they are not prepared for. Close Enough is all about trying to navigate the waters of growing up and how, really, you never fully feel like an adult even as a parent.
Space Ghost from Coast to Coast (1994)
Before The Eric Andre Show, there was Space Ghost from Coast to Coast, an animated talk show parody that thrived on making its interview subjects uncomfortable. Importantly, all of the guests were filmed in live-action, while Space Ghost and his crew are animated. The character of Space Ghost is based on the Hanna Barbera cartoon from the 1960s. But this reboot is for adults and full of surrealist humor. Each season descends more deeply into madness, but it never fails to make you laugh. The Jim Carey interview from Episode 12 is particularly memorable. If you’re a fan of watching celebrities squirm in awkward interviews, then look no further than Space Ghost from Coast to Coast. Each episode is only fifteen minutes, too, so it’s the perfect show to binge.
Harley Quinn (2019)
This violent new animated series is focused on the DC Comics villain Harley Quinn as she sets out to become a crime boss in Gotham City with her own crew. In addition to the action you expect from a comic book series, Harley Quinn is also about its titular character proving herself after existing in the shadow of the Joker for so long.
Kill La Kill (2013)
HBO Max has a rather extensive collection of anime, which includes Kill La Kill, a show that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It is about sentient school uniforms that transform their wearers into powerful fighters. Only the rich have access to these clothes — until the new girl Ryuko comes to town. She’s here to avenge her father’s death and she has a scissor sword to prove it. Each episode is more ridiculous than the next as students fight each other, the stakes get higher, and more is revealed about these sentient clothes. The premise is bizarre and the show is even more so, but there’s no denying Kill La Kill is thoroughly entertaining.
— Mary Beth McAndrews
The Best Horror Movies on HBO Max
The Children (2008)
It’s December, so you had to know I’d slip a holiday-themed terror into this shortlist. Tom Shankland’s The Children is one of my favorite slices of Christmas horror, and it’s one of the best ones involving killer kids. While most movies with pint-sized terrors can’t help but be silly — they’re little! just kick ’em in the head! — this icy classic finds the horror in facing off against your own children. The violence is brutal, the tension is high, and the film builds to a pretty fantastic ending.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
Stephen King’s sequel to his own classic novel The Shining was always going to be a tough adaptation as Stanley Kubrick’s movie has the stronger foothold in pop culture. Leave it to the brilliant Mike Flanagan to pull it off beautifully with a movie that honors both King’s and Kubrick’s visions. The visuals and set pieces are killer, including a third act that revisits The Shining in some very cool ways, the performances are affecting, and Rebecca Ferguson delivers a terrifying villain.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Remakes often get a bad rap, but there are more than a few that bring the goods. That includes this under-appreciated reboot and rebirth of Jason Voorhees from director Marcus Nispel, who ensures the action and violence is brutal and gory. Derek Mears comes charging out of the gate as arguably the best and scariest Jason as he moves with speed and visible power. It’s a terrifically entertaining slasher that delivers old school fun with slick visuals and bloody detail.
The Hitcher (1986)
Forget the remake, don’t even Google to confirm that a sequel to the original was actually made, ignore those jabronies Siskel and Ebert who literally spoiled the film’s ending on opening weekend on The Tonight Show, and instead focus your attention on Robert Harmon’s intense and fascinating classic. It remains a suspenseful and atmospheric ride across the American landscape with death in the form of a mysterious Rutger Hauer. It deserves a remastered Blu-ray, but we’ll settle for streaming.
Ready or Not (2019)
Samara Weaving is always a welcome presence, especially when she gets to play a character filled with piss and vinegar, and she’s never been better than she is here. She plays a new bride who discovers on her wedding night that the price for joining her husband’s family is a high one. Violence, carnage, and some pretty stellar laughs fly left and right as she fights for her very life. The supporting cast brings the hilarious fire, too, including Adam Brody, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, and more.
— Rob Hunter
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